As noted last night, the Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year deal worth about $6M, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted, the deal immediately raised eyebrows around the industry, as numerous catchers who played at a similar level to Rodriguez took much less to sign.
Let's compare Rodriguez's 2009 to those of Gregg Zaun, Henry Blanco and Brian Schneider, the three veteran catchers that have already signed. I discussed those three signings in more detail here.
Rodriguez: 448 PA, .287 wOBA, 0.8 WAR, 2010 salary: ~$3.0M (two-year deal)
Zaun: 296 PA, .334 wOBA, 1.8 WAR, 2010 salary: $1.9M plus incentives (2011 club option)
Schneider: 194 PA, .278 wOBA, 0.3 WAR, 2010 salary: $1.25M (two-year deal)
Blanco: 232 PA, .310 wOBA, 1.2 WAR, 2010 salary: $1.5M (one-year deal)
Now, all four of these catchers are regarded as above-average defensively, so their value is slightly higher than indicated by their WAR, because WAR fails to calculate defense for catchers, assuming that all catchers are league average.
I simply have to ask: What did Rodriguez do to earn that extra $3.5-4.0M in guaranteed salary, given the way that his performance compares to his peers?
And then of course, I remembered that Rodriguez won the 1999 AL MVP and is regarded as one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game. And he's been posting hollow batting averages (no walks/power) for years. And he's, well, Pudge Rodriguez.
It must be nice to be paid for what you've already done and been paid (handsome, I might add) for, rather than what you're going to do. If Rodriguez is taking any playing time away from Jesus Flores, who frankly should be their everyday catcher, then Nats fans probably shouldn't be happy with this move, beyond the wasted resources.